2015: Songs I’ve Loved

There are 23 songs on this playlist and there easily could have been 57, so I’m feeling rather accomplished for separating the wheat from the chaff.

Every year I make a playlist of songs that have attached to me over the previous 365 days. Last year I kept it to songs that came out in that year, but this year I really don’t have any rules. These are songs that came to me over 2015, or reemerged at a specific moment and solidified a memory. Some of them were released this year, some of them weren’t; all of them matter to me. I’d say that this year’s common denominator is voice. Yup – I have to go with Guru on this one; this year: it’s mostly tha voice.

JANUARY

Enough About Hard Times, Caitlin Canty
Caitlin Canty is my favorite discovery of the year. I love this woman’s alto. I love how the songs drip with grit and history and loss and promise. Reckless Skyline is loaded with tunes that solidify me in time and prop me up – I could have filled this entire playlist with them. Other key tracks on this album are Wore Your Ring, My Love for You Will Not Fade, I Never, and Get Up.

Frankly, this year started hard and hollow with a phone call. I’d just pulled onto the freeway, merged into traffic, and ensured I wasn’t going to be decimated by the swerving 18-wheeler in the lane next to me when the phone broke through the stereo. You don’t ignore calls from your mother, and my car is equipped with Bluetooth, so I answered.

The news was not good. My brother returned home from work that day to find that his long-term girlfriend – essentially his wife – died sometime during the day, in their bed. It was horrible. Everything was horrible. I made immediate plans to drive to Utah by myself and stay with him for as long as I could. And I did.

I decided to put my iPod on shuffle and just drive – some silly idea of music leading me there and back. It didn’t last long; the only thing I really wanted to listen to was Caitlin Canty. I probably played this song in particular about seventy six times on that drive, and even more in the months afterwards.

The entire album kept me company in that shitty, horrible, cold and bitter window, but this song meant more. I was struggling with a lot of choices, and it was easy to complain or blame and not solve any of the problems. I gave into that easiness – I was tired and I was sad all the time and I couldn’t see beyond that mindset. This song got me to stop feeling sorry for myself. The refrain “Enough about hard times / you fell on your own knife / enough about leaving / unless you’re gonna go” hit me hard, and I realized I needed to make some hard choices that were going to cause big changes, and I needed to make them soon. I’d brought myself to this point – enough with the complaining, and the giving in: it was time – to use a cliché – to put up or shut up. So I did. And I played this album relentlessly all year long.

FEBRUARY

Wolves, Down Like Silver
Being obsessed with all things Caitlin Canty meant finding out about this side project with Peter Bradley Adams. This song is dark and haunting and choral; coming out of the trip to Utah, the funeral, the grief, the helplessness, the weak resolve, and the upheaval of the weeks that followed, this song fit perfectly with my mood. I love the spare piano and the way the strings creep in at the end. The repetition of the last line “daylight is waiting for you” as the song winds down always makes me feel like maybe everything isn’t shit even when you think it is, because music exists. I dunno. February started in the most mercurial way.

Something New, Summer Cannibals
Thank you, NPR.

I was introduced to Summer Cannibals when I came across a post in my newsfeed from NPR Music for this video.

That video was everything to me. I loved the Hamm’s in the opening shot when Jessica Boudreaux has the bb gun, her kickass haircut, and the music. The lyrics. The music. It was a little bit Runaways, a little bit pouty… I was addicted. I probably nearly caused a few accidents since kept playing the video while driving to and from work, since it was the only way I could listen to the song. When the album finally came out in March, I’d worn that song out – and I still wanted more. The album is great, but this song – and the video – were instant classics for me.

I also ❤ ❤ ❤ this version.

MARCH

Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett
Fresh on the heels of Summer Cannibals came Courtney Barnett.

If you don’t know Courtney Barnett, you haven’t been paying attention to music this year. And if you can’t figure out why this song (and the entire album, and all that came before it) then I’m not sure we should be music friends.

Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996), Modest Mouse
And then Modest Mouse gave us Strangers to Ourselves and all was right with the world, because Modest Mouse.

The album is a mess, but individually the songs are terrific. It’s weird and it’s off-kilter, and I love it. The fourth track on the album, Pistol was initially my least favorite song. Something about it grew and grew on me until I heard it in the background of my day when it wasn’t even playing. It cycled through my head – the squirreliness, the intrusive “duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh” at the breaks, the ting-ting-ting of electricity… this song is sexy, despite disjointed lyrics. I don’t exactly know why I love it, but listening to it over and over while driving down 13 towards Berkeley in the gray March mornings felt pretty perfect.

APRIL

Collectors, Springtime Carnivore
I was about to go out on the road for work so all of the anger that had been building didn’t matter as much. I spent a lot of nights making lists of things I wanted out of a new job; I debated going back to school and looked at online colleges, and also spent time preparing for the upcoming nearly month-long trip. Springtime Carnivore came over my headphones one night via a Spotify radio channel, and I was smitten with the bouncy energy of the song coupled with the melancholy lyrics. Then I came across a video of this kid dancing to it and absolutely fell in love. I spent the next weeks on plane after plane, and Collectors accompanied me on nearly every one. Greta Morgan’s voice makes me happy, and I was hunting all the happy I could find.

We Both Know, Reservations
I actually found Reservations on the very last day of 2014. I was compiling a list much like this and stumbled on the song Hewlitt Park. I liked the song, liked Jana Horn’s voice, and absent-mindedly added the 5-song EP to a Spotify library. My phone was recently upgraded to a whopping 64gb of memory, so I was going a little crazy with the “play offline” feature and toggled the album to be available even if I wasn’t connected to the rest of the world.

Lo and behold, my first flight to Canada was sans wi-fi. It wasn’t a short flight, and so I started digging around my playlists, listening to stuff I’d added but rarely revisited. This album was one of those playlists.

This song breaks my heart. I love the wistful, delicate layers of guitar from Paul Price. I love the lyrics – “Someone asked me about you / and I could not describe / the eternity around you” or “I just can’t seem to collect all the pieces / that fall through the floor when you leave me uneven” – that’s the painful, out-of-sorts truth of unrequited love, isn’t it?

Reservations has a new album out this year that’s pretty good, but this song and that EP will always remind me of the April I trekked back and forth to Canada, from plane to plane and hotel room to hotel room – and surreptitiously, when I was in the states, from interview to interview – knowing a big change was coming.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2497910477/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/track=3954229613/transparent=true/

MAY

Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), Father John Misty
I missed the memo when Josh Tillman released the video for this in December. One of my work friends asked if I’d heard the new Father John single. I hadn’t, but found this song and felt the exuberance, the wanting, the hopefulness, the tenderness – but also the typical oddball story I’ve come to expect from a Father John Misty song. The horns – THOSE HORNS. Some of the lyrics – I don’t know what chord the lines “I want to take you in the kitchen / lift up your wedding dress / someone was probably murdered in” strike with me but goddamn that’s hot. The song accompanied me as I was saying goodbye to a job where I’d spent five years, and the very Herb Alpert/Whipped Cream nature of those horns buoyed me on days when I wasn’t sure if I could float.

JUNE

Done, Frazey Ford
Videos. This is also apparently the year of videos. Again, NPR suggested this to me, via my local public radio station. By this point in the year, I’d left my job in the east bay. I watched and promptly loved this video. I mean, the sass of this song. Frazey Ford’s voice! This was my early summer anthem, and danced to on many a BART train rides for the rest of the year.

A friend of mine said “a little too 90s coffee house for me” but I disagree. Lillith Fair, Frazey is decidedly not.

JULY

New Skin, Torres
The hip people of the world heard this song in November of 2014. I’m not hip, so I didn’t get around to it until July when it popped up in one of the music apps I use (I think it was Hype Machine). Meanwhile, Torres is pretty much tearing it up and absolutely flooding me with music. I love the crescendos in this song, and the upbeat but accusatory bass lines. I like the crashing drums, and the guitar fuzz, and the wail. The lyrics remind me of hymns, and Mackenzie Scott’s plaintive high notes really knock me out.

I far prefer the album version to the one that came out in November, in case you’re wondering.

Sing to Me, Walter Martin & Karen O
I’ve been terrified of driving over bridges forever.

I don’t know where it comes from, really. I mean, I have ideas. I have a lot of things I think I can blame – but truthfully, it’s probably the bridge itself, and the car, and me being in charge of it all.

But then I got a job in a place where I’d have to drive over a bridge every day. And I got over it. (Mostly. I still hate the Bay Bridge and by the time I get across it I’m breathing a little hard.) This song was a lullaby for mornings stuck in traffic, twilights stuck in transit, and all of the avenues and stop-and-go red lights in between.

Plus, Karen O.

AUGUST

Heavy metal drummer, Wilco
I hadn’t been to Chicago since I was nine or ten, or maybe eleven: one of those years when my legs were coltish and tanned and my hair looked like shiny wheat pennies stretched in a shimmery line. What I remembered about Chicago still spoke to me: lines and more lines, architecture that positively felt like home.

I walked around Chicago listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, because what else do you do when you’re a Wilco fan let loose in Chicago? You walk around in the heat, you sweat, and you listen to your very favorite Wilco song while trying to angle your camera in a way to replicate the cover of the album.

This was my first trip for my new job, and everything felt so very critical, and my phone was volatile but damn if I couldn’t listen to Wilco whenever I wanted, and at the side of Lake Michigan to boot.

I also sat and ate one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches of my life while I copied the lyrics onto an envelope for a card I was sending my brother. There’s just something about Wilco. Damnit.

Tomboy, Habibi
Discover weekly strikes.

This song is summer and it’s heavy and it’s cheeky and it thumps and it makes me want to dance.

This song is lo-fi and low production but it’s spectacular. Do you like sixties girlie punk rock flare? Listen to this band.

The video and the final album version are a little different. Check the album version, but in keeping with the video theme, also enjoy below:

Detroit Baby is another great track from this album.

Tiger Phone Card, Dengue Fever
Another Spotify Discover Weekly playlist – in fact, this may have been the same week as Habibi. In any case, the slinking, winding lure of this melody is only the beginning. The brassy bang, the brash bass, the goddamn alarm of it all on a magic carpet gliding through some kind of aural vortex really put me under a spell. I love this song, and I love the way it makes me think of hot summer mornings and nights navigating the back streets of East Palo Alto looking for new shortcuts. I can’t believe this song came out in 2008 and I only found it this year.

PS – Can we just stop for a moment and admire Chhom Nimol’s vocal chops? Mmmmm, mm.

Come On and Move Me, Monarchs
This song is thunder and a little bit of Chrissy Hynde and a whole lot of rumble. I’ve been in gardens after midnight, and I’ve looked for answers in the people who stumble around at that time. It’s always bullshit, but this song captures the lightness of hope that comes with a lot of drinking and music and love and swapping stark snippets of history with people you love, or don’t. It leaves you ready to move, to swing, to shimmy – and this tune shimmies. Again, came to it quite late – this track is from 2009.

Here’s a lovely live version.

SEPTEMBER

The Body Electric, Hurray For The Riff Raff
I love this. This song is brilliant That is all.

River, Ibeyi
I found Ibeyi and didn’t quite know if I liked them, but this song rattled around for a long time and made an impression. By early September I was skipping other songs to find it, looking forward to it.

Thump, thump, thump, duh-duh-duh-duh. All of the ways this rattles and coos. All of the ways it lifts and soars. Any river, any time, if it means I get to listen to music like this. 

OCTOBER

Shake It Off, Ryan Adams
Confession: I only kind of like Taylor Swift.

But I love the fuck out of Ryan Adams, even as he’s being an asshole during his divorce from Mandy Moore. I mean: he’s got a great voice but he seems like a total shithead, which is why this cover of the Taylor Swift blockbuster thrills me so deeply, I think. It’s so unlike Adams, but he seems completely at home with the lyrics and the guitar work. I do appreciate the spare arrangement and the rock and roll flavor of this version. I want to wear a leather jacket and be really good at snapping my fingers – plus I really love the tempo on this version of the song.

I played it for my brother in October when he came for his birthday. We drove up 1 and as I nearly panicked from the ridiculous drops at the side of the highway, he leaned into this cover album like nothing else. It was so good to see him in the sunshine with music moving him – this song in particular brought a smile to his face and it made me less weary just seeing it.

NOVEMBER

Laborman, Nathaniel Rateliff
Toronto, I love you. I can’t help it: you’re kind of scruffy and delicate of skin, but you’re also tough and cold and brisk and all your brick buildings stand so tall. Every time I go to Toronto I fall in love a little bit more – and it was because of a trip to Toronto that I found Nathaniel Rateliff. His current band was playing while I was going to be there during the tail end of November – I started listening to him because of that. This song and this album went on repeat for the rest of the year. I love the clamor and loose hallelujah of the verse and chorus here – forgiveness is never something you come to – or from – easily. The clip of the guitar during the verse is great. I also love his voice – go figure, right – and I sort of want to live inside of it for awhile just to feel it’s warmth and depth. The album this song is from is quite good, but I also highly recommend his newest endeavor.

Ghosts, Laura Marling
Laura Marling is one of those artists I wish I’d known about since she was singing in small venues, birdlike and still prey, with a voice that skips and scampers across the soporific meadow of shoegaze to break you out of reverie. I love her voice – mischief and truth and repetition and slide – it’s all there. This song is old, old, old.

Her newest album out this year is stunning, but this song trickles across me like rain on a window in the slowest traffic. This song scrapes against the edge of conversations that may or may not be a good idea. As the days shortened and the nights lengthened, I knew I had Laura Marling to keep me company.

DECEMBER

Defense, Sarah Jaffe
If this is the year of the voice and the video, Sarah Jaffe has it down. You want sultry? You want slink? You want the skunky, steamy thwap of disdain and retort? This song has it pinned. I have no idea how I found Sarah Jaffe. I’m not exactly thrilled by anything else I’ve heard, but this song would pull me from a chair to the dancefloor without a second thought.

WTF (Where They From), Missy Elliot feat. Pharrell Williams
Missy. Fucking. Elliot.

Shanghai Cigarettes, Caitlin Rose
I like that I start and end this list with a Caitlin/Caitlyn. I like that this song is another one of those I’ve come to late, and that it found me through Spotify Discover Weekly, and that when I tweeted it was my new everything Caitlin Rose favorite the tweet. Yeah. I was stoked. But really, the playful lilt of this song gobbles up any animosity I’m feeling over any situations that tremor, and make me realize I can’t run or hide from the hole in my heart, or from the last moment of memory as it deteriorates into ash.

The rhythm guitar in this song reminds me of the Vaselines, and Rose’s voice feels like blue jeans and warm hugs. This song is the perfect conclusion to this year: it’s over, but it will continue to resound and replay for awhile. Hopefully it will someday be right, and I’ll let go – but if I don’t, I’ll have Shanghai Cigarettes to sing along with.

THE END

That’s my year in songs: good or bad, old or new, music touched me again and I’m grateful. This was a hard year for people I love. It was a hard year for me. It was a year full of promise and change. I could go on and the alliteration would be ridiculous, superfluous, over the top. Brevity is not my strong suit, but neither is amplification. Here’s a link to the playlist in full (again). Works if you’re all up in that Spotify business.

 

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Chrysalis

My mother, everywhere with a rag
Wiping surfaces like grief can be cleaned
I love her for it

My brother, everywhere weeping
The ragged lines of his eyes aged ten years
In a night

Trying to find out what you’ll never know
breaks you in pieces worse than a record hurled
to hardened concrete

My sister on an airplane, heading east
to envelop us all in small comfort
because she is a comfort, and small

my little brother, balding and daughtered
and well; here i am grateful and guilty as I watch
his girl climb his limbs

my baby brother, driving, bearded, grown
too tall for anything but tiptoes
but here, on a doorstep, hesitant

And thoroughly, the smell of bleach like
a window into the sideswiped hallway

I mean,

You reconcile a self
with what you really knew,

and then, with what erupted from what you didn’t,
the memory unfurls,

unbound, scaled, recompensed

All of the boots you wear until you fall down
All the songs you sing until you fall down
All the ashes that hit your face while you hold hands
waiting and living until you fall down

And then
one day you do
like a stone to a river bottom

All the way, falling
down.

01.29.2015

playlist.2014 – songs that just killed me this year

unnamedOkay, look. Tomorrow – er – today – I pledge to start a five year diary, and I feel like music is going to be a big part of that on the days I don’t want to say anything important about myself (or don’t have anything to say!). I picked this thing up at the last antique fair cruised on a first Sunday with my parents.

It’s a souvenir diary given to a girl named Dottie on her 16th birthday that has the tragic misfortune of being empty and falling into my hands.

In any case, here are fourteen songs that killed me this year, in the order they found me. Find ranked by preference at the end.

Talking Backwards – Real Estate

Can we just talk about Real Estate for a second?

Real Estate first showed up in my life in 2011 when a friend of mine played it in her car and I squealed “WHAT IS THAT”, in love.

They came around this year and I caught their show in San Francisco at the Independent. I met up with a friend’s brother and his friends, and they stood and looked at me awkwardly and I stood and looked at them awkwardly and then Real Estate came on and nothing else mattered.

This song drives you a little crazy with its catchiness: the guitar picks across you like sun picks across a room. And that line, “We can talk for hours, and the line is still engaged” brings me back to being sixteen, sprawled on the carpet of my parents living room floor, twisted in a phone cord and conversation with the boy I had a horrible crush on (it went unrequited, I’m sad to report).

TO NOTE: Driving to this concert was the first time in my life that I drove myself across the Bay Bridge.   While this is a seemingly small accomplishment in the scheme of all things other-than-Elizabeth, I AM TERRIFIED OF DRIVING ACROSS BRIDGES. I live in the Bay Area where EVERYTHING HAS BRIDGES. But I managed to get across that one (there and back!) without incident, and I got to see an awesome show to boot – and conquered a little bit of a ridiculous fear.

Fine, Great – Modern Baseball

All the lyrics. Fuck that. Just the opening line: “I hate worrying about the future, cause all my current problems are based around the past.”

Does that sum up your life? Because Christ, it sums up mine.

Fuck all of that. The pure pop punk assault of it all.

Whatever. The drums.

This song. THIS SONG.

The Instagram dig, the aside of, “yeaaaah… about that” – it strikes me down like Samuel L. Jackson delivering a soliloquy in a Tarantino film.

And don’t even get me started on the slappy acoustic guitar that pulls my 1995 self to the surface with fist-pumping fury.

Last Stop – Got a Girl

Dan the Automator.  I mean … Do you even music?

I Know, Didn’t I (feat. Darondo) – Slimkid 3, DJ Nu-Mark

There are about four people at work I routinely lean on for musical advice and guidance. I also force my musical opinions on them, but that’s neither here nor there.

One day I said Hey, Todd – what can’t you get enough of? He was all, oh – are you down with the Pharcyde? Jurassic 5?

I was like, my friend. HAVE YOU MET ME?

He linked me and I almost broke work internet watching the video. Infatuated.

You will be, too.

This video… this beat… all of it, over and over and over again.

She’s Not Me – Jenny Lewis

Summer brought Jenny Lewis, and it was like the warm, wet lick of heat that creeps under your skin and stirs you until you’re crazed and lyrical and hot, looking at the moonlight like a lycanthrope and spouting your own truth like a Quaker.

I’m a little bit of a Jenny Lewis fan. I loved her when she was a child actress and then when Rilo Kiley sowed my late 90s oats, man – there was no going back. I took a week in early December to see three of her shows (two with Ryan Adams, who graces this list come September timeframe) and left them all blown away. That little powerhouse moves me, literally and figuratively.

It was hard to choose one song from Voyager – this list could have easily been my favorite Ryan Adams & Jenny Lewis songs in order of preference – especially with gems like Just One of the Guys, The New You, Aloha & The Three Johns,  and Slippery Slopes. But this track – oh, friend. That breakaway, with the soaring declaration waning into a sorrowful remorse “You were all that I needed” followed with stellar Ryan Adams guitar, channeling an Eric Clapton-circa-Layla? Unmatched. Un-fucking-matched.

And when Ryan Adams actually covered this song during his set? I melted. I MELTED. Both times. Into the ground.

(Note –this song at the show which closed out her headlining tour, where she played  in the Degrassi-Jr.-High-cum-Boys-&-Girls-Club in Petaluma known as the Phoenix Theater? Her touring guitarist totally shredded – that whole touring band shredded I mean, that whole show was unreal. The balloons? That rendition of The Next Messiah, or Acid Tongue? Shut your face, everyone. That show shut it down.)

Marching Orders – The New Pornographers

I had this thing where I hated the New Pornos for a long time just because of a bad personal experience. That’s the worst: when an experience with a person colors music you otherwise adore.

Time heals all wounds, and when it doesn’t, the New Pornos are just going to make a record you can’t ignore no matter how deep you dig your well. Brill Bruisers is like that – and like The Voyager in some sense – it’s an album you can’t put down, and you can’t narrow yourself to one song because the whole of it makes everything about you vibrate.

This song – so buoyant, demanding, and inquisitive – and lyrics that use the word hackneyed??? SWOON with a capital hashtag.

As a girl who sings at the top of her lungs in her car almost every day, I’m very appreciative of the invitation to lose my voice. (PS, runners up from this album are Champions of Red Wine and War On The East Coast.)

Marching orders, indeed.

Low Key – Tweedy

Wilco was never my thing until a friend made me a compilation, and “I’m the Man That Loves You” was on it and it I found myself snagged in the ragged snare of Jeff Tweedy’s droll growly croon. I’m not low key at all – but it sounds like a pleasant, less stressful way to be. The melody to this song makes me want to dance across the kitchen in sunshine, but with some kind of shy Zooey Deschanel smile and a choreographed solo to match the impeccable doo wop that breaks out in the middle of this gem.

Whatever, Jeff Tweedy.  You’re basically better than everything (except maybe Ryan Adams).

Do yourself a favor and skip to 1:45-ish in the video.

Zigzagging Toward the Light – Conor Oberst

We get it, Conor.  You’re awesome.

Lots of love for this song – but you’re gonna want to jump to at least the two minute mark (this video, sheesh!). From the initial dismal proclamation to the slightly more optimistic chorus, this is classic Conor Oberst in a beautiful little package. The more  you listen, the more you want to listen.  All the noise behind him makes him sound even more earnest and hallow than he would as a single flameless warble in the night. True love does indeed hide like city stars.

Looking for a Fight – Bleached

Smitten. That’s the only way to describe the way I felt about Bleached, who I found one day when I couldn’t stand anything else in the world other than putting my headphones on and blocking off everything else. From then on, Ride Your Heart was a go-to for any moment that felt even the slightest bit elevated.

I love this simple drum beat, the smacking bass, and the tone on the vocals. The lyrics also slay: are you crushing too fast? Because know, this love, it won’t last.

This is a great song to sing along to in the car when you’re stuck in traffic, by the by.

Feels Like Fire – Ryan Adams

From the first burst of guitar followed by the punctuation of a question – are you there – Ryan Adams draws you in to a terrible tale of letting something go – the hardest thing I’ll let go.

When he played this in concert in Tempe I stood up, the only person in the entire auditorium out of their chair. That’s what good music does to you: it moves you from floor to ceiling in an endless identification of your deepest, darkest horror and joy. Fuck. Music, man. This album (and his punk foray, 1984) was one of my favorite this year.

Also. His touring band, the Shining? Hella good, man.

just so you know: you will always be the hardest thing i will let go / driving past  your church and all the houses in a row – the feeling in my chest is fire, broken glass and wire

Beast – Ex Hex

Was it my imagination, or did you come out of the past?

I don’t know, Mary Timony, shouldn’t I be asking you?

This album is pure fun. This song is like Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, and Joan Jett channeled through retro riot grrrl fire that sets my proverbial Doc Martens blazing.

This song also makes me miss smoking cigarettes, so it almost didn’t make the list.

In Your Car – Big Deal

The first Big Deal song I ever heard was nothing like this one, which has an opening jam that reminds me of The Cars Just What I Needed; at least until that soft, upbeat shoegaze chorus drifts away and across while you nod your head and tap your foot.

Anyone who has been in the backseat of a road trip and woken to sunlight, a radio playing, and a conversation you’ll never understand will probably get this song. Or if you’ve ever worn heart-shaped sunglasses.

Plus, the video. Have you seen this? It’s adorable and creepy.


Adult Diversion – Alvvays

I mentioned Debbie Harry above but really: can you get any more Blondie-influenced than this sweet, wistful number from Toronto-based Alvvays?

I want to put on shoes that squeak and dance around a kitchen. I want leg warmers and hot plates and Robert Palmer guitars.

There’s a lot of things about this song that touch me, but the chorus seems to be stalking my life: “Is it a good time? Or is it highly inappropriate?? // If I should fall, act as though it never happened / I will retreat and sit inside so very quietly.” (Because I fall a lot.)

Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan also have some ridiculously great fashion sense.

Really, there’s just nothing I don’t  love about this song, or this album. Get it. Get it now.

(Note: I might be a little biased – I got to see them in a teensy club in Seattle and afterwards I met a guy who got me in to a Stevie Wonder show which was one of the best things I’ve experienced. So there’s also that.)

So Blonde – EMA

The way “I was alone in the city” comes out is so eerily reminiscent for me of Myriad Harbour that I can’t stand it, and EMA has that trashy, throbbing stinging sound that draws you in and makes you want more. So disdainful, and incredulous – EMA is one to watch. I found this song through a Spotify suggestion and almost wore out my iPhone replaying it.


But that’s enough for 2014 and my apparent obsession for blondes – here’s how I’d rank these songs if forced (or if it’s almost one in the morning and I’m feeling relatively self-indulgent.)

(And if I have to – in order of awesomeness, 1 being greatest)
14 Zigzagging Toward the Light – Conor Oberst
13 So Blonde – EMA
12 Last Stop – Got a Girl
11 Low Key – Tweedy
10 I Know, Didn’t I (feat. Darondo) – Slimkind3, DJ Nu-Mark
09 In Your Car – Big Deal
08 Beast – Ex Hex
07 Talking Backwards – Real Estate
06 Looking for a Fight – Bleached
05 Adult Diversion – Alvvays
04 Fine, Great – Modern Baseball
03 Feels Like Fire – Ryan Adams
02 Marching Orders – The New Pornographers
01 She’s Not Me – Jenny Lewis

untitled poem

Down the ramp towards the airplane

All click clack at the echo of my heels

and the ratcheting sound of wheels over tiny plastic bumps

 

Like our phone call, where all insides

turned upside, downside, silent

 

The impotence

 

The inability to assist

 

So let me drink

Bring me the whiskey

Give me the beer

Let me hold it in my hand and erase

 

Because that’s why I drift

It’s an easy forgetfulness

A thoughtless wander

A stroll

through a labyrinth where an end does not matter

And there are no problems to solve for brother or mother or father

or friend

Just an empty hollow hello

 

The way the bottle glistens and shimmers

and beckons

 

CC: to self

Corral your inner thought and tie that horse to a crabtree

There is nothing here but a sour apple

and nothing near but a happenstance scrap of memory

 

Responsibility means nothing when

your barrel is dry and your car is crashing

And the only pieces you care about

come from a candy bag

 

11.13.2013

Bound and Unbound and Bound

No one will set themselves alight with tears

In a hotel room

Alone

All alone

 

Here is this thing where I feel ultimate responsibility

Someone touched you once

And twenty five years later you are bound and unbound and bound

Again

 

No one will sit in a stool

And make any tears into beers

And slop sorrow and sorry over me

 

Here I am

In my room

Hoteled up

All secure with a credit card deposit and a will and a way

Grimacing, catching mirror faces

Thinking

 

The ugly inside me is greater than the ugly inside anything I know

 

Including you

 

So pull your bootstraps at the ankle and yank

Go unbending, into the night, and wallop the words

That say no, that say you can’t

 

I’ll still be here

Sloppy and sugared and smart

Against the current of hotel sheets

Hoping

Hoping

For better, then best.

 

 

11

13

2013

 

playlist.2011.you’re over now – 13 Songs I Couldn’t Stop Playing

Are We Lovers or Are We Friends?
Acid House Kings

Amoreena, again — the only reason I know about some song I get obsessed with and can’t stop playing. This girl has better taste in music than roughly 90% of my friends (sorry guys). I played this about a million times in February and March. This album was the first NEW music I added to my iPod after paying for it with my tax return. (YAY TAXES.) I want to walk around my neighborhood in yoga pants and sketchers with heavy earphones everytime I hear the opening refrain.

These Days I Wake So Early
Goodbye Kumiko
http://goodbyekumiko.bandcamp.com/track/these-days-i-wake-so-early

“I wish I knew you when I was younger / before we got older / before all the heartbreaks / we know // the places to go / i’ve already been there / and they all mean something to me / now”

Aren’t we all regretful about the callousness of our youth? I think about Holden Caulfield sometimes, and my Junior year of highschool, and I wonder if either one of us survived. I’m being melodramatic, I know- but seriously- Holden Caulfield? As an adult? You don’t think that was the narrative? Someone looking back, romanticizing their youth? Holden is such an asshole. This song has nothing to do with assholes, but everything about the perspective the past gives you on the present. And how immalleable time really is. And the lines in your face. And the walls.

Dear Mr. President
Fitz and the Tantrums

The album version is a little more high energy than this Wilcox Session, but the feeling comes across just the same. It was April, and the days were gaining light, and I was walking around my neighborhood after a jumprope to this song: “Hey, put your foot down- and take a look ’round” seemed as good a rally cry to me as ever after months of watching what was happening in Wisconsin and then in New York and eventually, in Oakland. Dear Mr. President, Please take notice. XOXO, all of us.

Build.Destroy.Rebuild.
Hanni El Khatib


Over, and over and over again.

And again.

How It Ended
The Drums


Damn-you-reena! Hehehe. My BFF posted this song on my FB and was all, “This reminds me of when you lived next door to me.” And I was like, “Um, K, I loooooff this song. What is this!?” And she was all, you can check out pictures of this band (which are clearly awesome here: and also visit her website : http://www.amoreenalucero.com

Blood Red Blood
The Ettes

“Heee Heee YEEEEeees”… Coco! Let’s get married. Let’s take your litle hat and run over some ridge somewhere and adorably giggle and drink Rolling Rock, which is what drinkify suggest for me to imbibe while listening to you, Pony and Jem (Totally Outrageous) as you belt and whelp it out into my ears. (Though I love a cold Beck’s.) I adore this song, and the version captured here just breaks my broken heart.

In fact, the whole series makes me wish I was there, beer in hand, nodding head and heartfelt jaw-clench engaged, the stomp of my foot just seconds from the floor.

The Ettes pretty much saved my October/November. I was adrift and they anchored me. Thank god.

If You’re Lucky You’ll End Up With Someone You Don’t Hate
Elephant
http://soundcloud.com/mjmccarthy/mjsongs7
I go back and forth about what this song means to me. And then forth and back. But I love belting it out in my car.

Friends of Friends
Hospitality


Please go to iTunes and immediately pre-order this album, which is available on Jan 30(?). Not only do the opening chords of this song make me want to grab a microphone and declare something as bold as brash as having new friends, the desperation of a cheap dress with a wrinkled sleeve makes an urgent argument for your purchase. Do it. Preorder it. Now.

Mouth Drum
French Cassettes


OK, so, I was trolling the internet and found this Bay Area band and then missed my chance to see them at the Stork. Have kicked myself ever since. Sexy lyrics, nice stylings – I really dig them. Kind of a Vampire Weekend-From-the-Bay-Area-But-Less-Obnoxiously-Quirky-Than-VW kind of vibe. To be, you know, really vague about it.

Also, this song was STUCK in October. Couldn’t get it out of my head.

At+T
Pavement


I’ve been listening to Pavement since that damn haircut song, but never with any kind of urgency. Always a background and never a focus, I was cooking and I heard this come across my iPod on random. Something about the way Malkmus intones “Whatever whatever whatever” resonated… but my favorite lines “(spell me) Spritzer / on ice in New York ci-ty / isn’t it a pi-ty / you never had anything to mix with that” and “Jacob – Jacob Javvers – I’d like to thank you for everything – Primarily your glass house” are equally silly and nonsensical. And the way he wails at the end with complete abandon? I wish I could feel that free, even for fifteen seconds.

By Your Hand
Los Campesinos!


Oh, LC. Let’s all go steady. KK? Thx. Bye.

Glitter and Twang
Tullycraft


I never said the songs were from this year. (See: Pavement.) But there were about seven nights, maybe ten, where this song was on repeat. And a multitude of car rides to and from work. And I’m pretty sure if my coworkers hear “She grew up just north of privelege / where pink and perfect were sold” I’ll be shot.
Please, pay NO attention the the actual video.

bukowski
Modest Mouse


I never got into Modest Mouse and suddenly it’s like a book I can’t put down. This song resonated with me and came right at the perfect time when I need to say “asshole” a lot. I love the part where Isaac Brock accuses God of being an Indian Giver.

And those were the songs that I couldn’t get off my mind this year. And still can’t.